I suspected that a few of the people already in line—only about twenty-five or so when I approached—were probably there to see Milo Ventimiglia, what with him being one of the stars of Heroes. My suspicion was confirmed when I asked the young woman in front of me, “Is this the line for Top Cow?” and received a blank stare. “Top Cow?” I repeated, which served only to confuse her further. At last, “Are you here for Milo?” Score.
While in line, I wasn’t worried about the possibility of being shut out. As it turns out, the room was already more than halfway filled with people who had attended another panel in the same room and had opted to remain. Despite my excellent spot in line, I ended up being one of the last to get in, and somehow managed to get a coveted aisle seat so I could move up and down the sides snapping photos without disturbing any of the audience.
It wasn’t a terribly large room, and it was a good thing that the stars of the panel were running a few minutes late, since the moderator and Top Cow publicist Filip Sablick could not get the audio (for the slideshow of previews) to work. After some tinkering, and after the remaining panelists filed into the packed room, the panel discussion got underway.
Joining Sablick were Matt Hawkins (president of Top Cow), Milo Ventimiglia and production partner Russ Cundiff, Berserker writer Rick Loverd, and artist Jeremy Haun.
Forget Lunch, Let’s Do Breakfast
Cundiff and Ventimiglia met with writer Rick Loverd over breakfast to discuss Berserker or a project involving zombies. They decided to work on Beserker, a book about people who have an ancient Norse power and awake from blind rages to find themselves surrounded with the mangled corpses of strangers and loved ones alike. Ventimiglia points out that Loverd and Haun are both quite mellow and yet here they are writing and drawing gory material. When asked where the pair gets their ideas, they answer: “Mostly breakfast meetings”.
You Know, for Adults (Sorry, Kids)
“There will be lots of blood. Lots.” Haun explained that while drawing some of the gorier panels he just flicked his brush to convey all the blood splatter. It’s not a comic for kids, by any means. When these characters go berserk, readers see the unrestrained id and everything it is capable of doing.
Ventimiglia and Cundiff are adamant about putting out a comic book that comic book people appreciate. Ventimiglia shared that when pressed about a movie and other related projects, his response was: “Let’s do a kick-ass comic first, and the rest will come later”. For this team, the comic book is not a pilot, and not a marketing tool intended to generate some money but that exists mainly to promote bigger projects (think movie and video game). Ventimiglia, whose father used to take him to comic shops when he was a kid, genuinely seems to care about the book, and the panelists’ excitement for Berserker was palpable.
The characters in Berserker were born with this terrible power and are left trying to figure out what is happening and why. Despite the unchecked violence prevalent in the book, the panelists explained that Berserker is not like Saw. These characters have hearts, and they show remorse when they realize they are the perpetrators of these frenzies. They can’t control who they kill or who gets killed when, say, they grab a car and swing it around once or twice before hurling it off in any direction. They remain haunted and tortured by their actions.
Why Norse Mythology?
While readers won’t see Odin, those of us familiar with Norse mythology will easily pick out parallels. When asked by an audience member why they decided to take elements of Norse mythology, the reply was: “Because the Greeks were pussies… and the Romans took from the Greeks”.
Issue Zero was available for purchase at the convention and serves as a prologue. Expect Issue One to be available in June, to be followed by five more issues that will (they hope) release monthly and (relatively) on schedule.